Dan Harmon, who co-created Community along with Joe and Anthony Russo, has been removed as showrunner by Sony Pictures Television, according to a report at The Onion's AV Club website. The site reports that he'll be replaced by David Guarascio and Moses Port of Happy Endings and Just Shoot Me fame.
Last year, Harmon's contract was renewed for only one year, not the customary two years that a showrunner gets when their show is picked up for a third season, and this week at the NBC upfronts the network made clear that they weren't totally sure about Harmon's role going forward, so the writing was arguably on the wall for a while now. “I expect Dan’s voice to be a part of the show somehow, I’m just not sure if that means he’s running it day-to-day or consulting on it,” NBC Entertainment President Bob Greenblatt said earlier this week.
The series recently lost executive producers Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan (who cut their teeth on Scrubs with Bill Lawrence, who left as Cougar Town showrunner Thursday), who signed a deal with 20th Century Fox to develop television for them, and The AV Club speculates that these three will not be the last of the changes before Community returns for its 13-episode fourth season next year, when it will air Friday nights as a lead-in to NBC's Grimm.
It's hard to guess what, if any, impact this will have on the show day-to-day, although NBC's comedies have a tendency to get broader and sillier as time goes on (see The Office or Will & Grace for examples of this). While it would be difficult to eschew the geeky sensibilities that have made the show a cult favorite without alienating its audience, it seems that bringing in showrunners who have experience running more "safe," standard sitcom fare points in the direction of a network looking to rein in the show's off-the-wall creative energy, which as often as not ends with episodes that take more time and money to assemble than is expected or allotted.
Harmon has generated a lot of controvery of late; while most showrunners are largely unknown outside of the hardcore fanbase for any given show, Harmon made headlines earlier this year when he leaked voicemails from Chevy Chase that were critical of the show, as well as containing threats and harsh language directed at Harmon. Harmon later apologized for leaking the voicemails, which were apparently provoked by his own on-set antics, and NBC has said the controversy had nothing to do with Harmon's position being reconsidered.